Download the Complete Archive of Oz, “the Most Controversial Magazine of the 60s,” Featuring R. Crumb, Germaine Greer & More


“If you remem­ber the six­ties,” goes the famous and var­i­ous­ly attrib­uted quo­ta­tion, “you weren’t real­ly there.” And, psy­cho­log­i­cal after-effects of first-hand expo­sure to that era aside, increas­ing­ly many of us weren’t born any­where near in time to take part.

Those of us from the wrong place or the wrong time have had to draw what under­stand­ing of the six­ties we could from that much-mythol­o­gized peri­od’s music and movies, as well as the cloudy reflec­tions of those who lived through it (or claimed to). But now we can get a much more direct sense through the com­plete dig­i­tal archives of Oz, some­times called the most con­tro­ver­sial mag­a­zine of the six­ties.

oz dylan

In The Guardian, Chi­tra Ramaswamy describes the Lon­don mag­a­zine as “the icon – and the enfant ter­ri­ble – of the under­ground press. Pro­duced in a base­ment flat off Not­ting Hill Gate, Oz was soon renowned for psy­che­del­ic cov­ers by pop artist Mar­tin Sharp, car­toons by Robert Crumb, rad­i­cal fem­i­nist man­i­festos by Ger­maine Greer, and any­thing else that would send the estab­lish­ment apoplec­tic. By August 1971, it had been the sub­ject of the longest obscen­i­ty tri­al in British his­to­ry. It doesn’t get more 60s than that.” Even its print run, which began in 1967 and end­ed in 1973, per­fect­ly brack­ets the peri­od peo­ple real­ly talk about when they talk about the six­ties.


The online archive has gone up at the web site of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wol­lon­gong, who two years ago put up a sim­i­lar dig­i­tal col­lec­tion of all the issues of Oz’s epony­mous satir­i­cal pre­de­ces­sor pro­duced in Syd­ney. “Please be advised,” notes the front page, “this col­lec­tion has been made avail­able due to its his­tor­i­cal and research impor­tance. It con­tains explic­it lan­guage and images that reflect atti­tudes of the era in which the mate­r­i­al was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished, and that some view­ers may find con­fronting.” And while Oz today would­n’t like­ly get into the kind of deep and high-pro­file legal trou­ble it did back then — in addi­tion to the famous 1971 tri­al for the Lon­don ver­sion, the Syd­ney one got hit with two obscen­i­ty charges dur­ing the pre­vi­ous decade — the sheer trans­gres­sive zeal on dis­play all over the mag­a­zine’s pages in its hey­day still impress­es.


“Fifty years lat­er, it’s impor­tant as a cap­sule of the times, but also as a work of art,” says Michael Organ, a library man­ag­er at the uni­ver­si­ty, in the Guardian arti­cle. “Oz is a record of the cul­tur­al rev­o­lu­tion. Many of the issues it raised, such as the envi­ron­ment, sex­u­al­i­ty and drug use, are no longer con­tentious. In fact, they have now become main­stream.”

Oz Crumb Cartoon

All this goes for the delib­er­ate­ly provoca­tive edi­to­r­i­al con­tent — the stuff some view­ers may find “con­fronting” — as well as the inci­den­tal con­tent: ads for nov­els by Hen­ry Miller and Jean Genet, “dates com­put­er matched to your per­son­al­i­ty and tastes,” a machine promis­ing “a hot line to infinity/journey through the incred­i­ble land­scapes of your mind/kaleidoscopic mov­ing chang­ing image on which your mind projects its own changing/stun your­self & aston­ish friends,” and the “liq­uid lux­u­ry” of the Aquar­ius Water Bed. It does not, indeed, get more six­ties than that. Enter the Oz archive here.


Relat­ed Con­tent:

Tonite Let’s All Make Love in Lon­don (1968): An Insider’s View of 60s Lon­don Coun­ter­cul­ture

R. Crumb Describes How He Dropped LSD in the 60s & Instant­ly Dis­cov­ered His Artis­tic Style

The Con­fes­sions of Robert Crumb: A Por­trait Script­ed by the Under­ground Comics Leg­end Him­self (1987)

62 Psy­che­del­ic Clas­sics: A Free Playlist Cre­at­ed by Sean Lennon

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • Philippe Mora says:

    I do recall the Six­ties. I was there. I con­tributed to OZ most notably with Mar­tin Sharp cre­at­ing the MAGIC THEATRE ISSUE No.16. It was an artis­tic enter­prise to cre­ate a visu­al expe­ri­ence as opposed to jour­nal­ism or con­ven­tion­al nar­ra­tive. Max Ernst and the Sur­re­al­ists were an inspi­ra­tion as well as Muy­bridge, John Heart­field and Rene Magritte.

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